I don’t remember much about the night. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t warm.
I had terrible news from home with one more night and another work day ahead of me. I’d been out of town for work for two long weeks (excluding weekends) and it was taking its toll.
On the last night, after the group of colleagues failed to escape Al Capone’s speakeasy at an Escape Room, we talked our loss out over some appetizers and a beer. By 8:00 p.m. we parted ways to our respective hotel rooms. This is when I got the bad news from home. It wasn’t the type of bad news that could be resolved over a phone call, nor was the situation at home something I could even begin to understand without being there.
Grumpy and ruminating, I recalled the karaoke dive bar not far from the hotel that my work group and me visited the previous week and I made the unfortunate choice to head over for a beer before going to bed. I sat at the bar- to the left where there were no people. I ordered “whatever IPA is on tap.” There was a short, older than middle-aged man writing in a notebook two seats to my right. My right hip was aching from my arthritis, two weeks of standing on my feet, and the exhaustion from being away for work.
I awoke at 4:06 a.m., naked and bruises forming on my mid-back down to the back of my knees. My face hurt and I had an imploding headache. The head was the first thing I felt. As soon as I started moving around in my bed I felt sick. Though I was still unaware of my injury, I was coming to an awareness that I was exposed, uncovered, cold, and in pain.
Like a cyclical obsession I drank water from the sink and retched. I tried to remember the beer. I put a straw in it. The writing man. The bearded bar tender. Who else? I Showered.
Looked at myself.
Called the front desk. No answer.
Stared in the mirror.
I saw it was 7:09 a.m. I knew I needed to start walking to the building next door for work by 7:45 a.m. My room wasn’t packed. I applied makeup. I straightened my hair. I told myself to hush. “Hush, Jamie!” I said again to my red eyes in the mirror. I put on some leggings and added a dress and a light sweater. I left my room with lights on and mess on display.
Before heading out of the hotel lobby, I asked the front desk lady if I could check out at 2. She told me I had until 12. I asked if she had surveillance. She said they monitor but don’t record. I asked if she worked the night before. She said her shift started at 7:00 that morning.
I wondered where my car was. When I found it where I parked it for two weeks, I wondered how I got to the hotel. I considered I might need to wake up from this very realistic nightmare. I then walked to the building next to hotel to give the last make-up state assessment of the journey.
My student didn’t show.
I sat in a chair atop my bruises and pretended I was whole while my colleagues still at the testing site chatted. I even chimed in, I’m sure.
I got home April 29th determined to fix the vibe in me that made me the object of yet another rapist. I was chosen by depravity again.
Closing in on 41. Overweight. Sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Tired and unimpressed.
The chosen one.
By June 13, whatever he or they did finally took full effect. My spine was compressed and frayed like a horse tail (Cauda Equina) due to both a shattered disc and a bulging disc mangling it up.
3 surgeries. Deep pain. Deep deep pain.
Anesthesia induced a resurfacing of repressed trauma.
Brain/spinal cord infection.
Numbness on right hip to toe (still).
‘Within hours of paralysis,” they said.
Never forgetting something I cannot remember.
Random flashbacks to darkness and fear.
No clue what happened to me.
All because I had a beer, alone.